nightshades & daylights
It’s been a pretty quiet beginning to 2023 over here at Needles in the Hay. We’ve started off the year taking a deep dive into our UFOs and finishing some long neglected projects. Things are about to spice up a bit though as some exciting new products start rolling in.
I’m really pleased to say that we’ve just started working with Harrisville Designs. Harrisville Designs is a family business founded in 1971 by John and Patricia Colony and run with two of their three sons. The Colonys bring six generations of textile expertise to Harrisville Designs and, today, produce small batch woolen spun yarn, beautifully carded fleece, and handmade floor looms.
To begin our collection of Harrisville yarns we have just brought in their gorgeous n i g h t s h a d e s & d a y l i g h t s collections.
For Daylights and Nightshades, Harrisville wanted to create a soft and supple yarn with the tactile appeal that hand knitters love, but without sacrificing durability. These yarns are made from beautifully soft Cormo wool from Montana. Cormo sheep are a relatively new breed derived from the crossing of Corriedales from New Zealand with super soft Saxon Merino. Cormo wool is a fine wool prized for consistent softness and even crimp, which adds bounce and elasticity to the finished yarn.
Matching fiber with carding and twist is the next step in designing a yarn. Harrisville wanted to preserve the pillowy texture of the wool but give it enough structure to resist pilling so they decided to use a 3-ply construction. More plies add more durability to a yarn as well as producing a rounded strand and additional drape, qualities that both play out in dramatic ways. Adding plies also adds density, which can make yarns feel heavier, but because of the woolen spinning technique, this yarn still feels incredibly light.
All of these properties combine to give you, the knitter, an enormous breadth of possibilities. This yarn is soft enough to wear next to the skin for a hat or a cuddly scarf, but will still be an ideal garment yarn that will hold up over time. The added drape will give garments a more supple appearance and the lightness will make them extremely appealing to wear.
Daylights and Nightshades are technically DK weight yarns, but they can be knit densely on a US 5 or 6 needle for a harder-wearing piece, or go up to a US 7, 8 or 9 for an airier, drapier fabric. The nature of the yarn will allow it to fill in when you block it meaning that whatever gauge you knit at, the fabric will always look substantial and balanced.
Daylights and Nightshades can work beautifully in everything from simple stockinette to colourwork to textures to cables, and will produce a piece of knitting that will be a staple in your wardrobe.
If the yarn's fibre and construction weren't appealing enough, Nightshades and Daylights have a unique perspective on colour: Taking a base shade of black or white and adding a touch of colour.
The Nightshades line came first, and is made up of twelve delicate shades of black, subtly marbled with colour. With names like insomnia, streetlight, and last call, this distinctive palette conjures the moody haze of late-night. Harrisville’s dyed-in-the wool process is responsible for Nightshades’ unique depth and richness, a trait rarely seen in other black yarns.
After developing the Nightshades yarn line, Harrisville decided to create an inverse palette that plays off the same Moody theme. This line consists of six delicate shades, marbled with a dusting of colour. With names like caffeine, bloodshot, and chirp, Daylights conjures a glowing sunrise the morning after a late night out.
Daylights was the greatest colour blending challenge Harrisville has had to date, because even slightly too much colour transforms the yarn from beautiful subdued tones to an overly bright intense palette. After three full years of experimenting, they finally found just the right colour formulas.
Ok, so now you cannot WAIT to get your hands on some of this yarn right? But what to make? No worries, because Harrisville Designs have come up with some fantastic pattern options. In addition to their house collection, there has also been a fair bit of interest from indie designers. Here are some of my favourites.
Secale Raglan by Sarah Solomon
Hadean Pullover by Whitney Hayward
Ginny by Andrea Mowry
Wilde by Sarah Solomon
Moon Bloom Mitts by Laura Reinbach
Flynn by Sarah Soloman